Studies show, self-monitoring through keeping a food log is a predictor of weight loss success! People who spent just 15 minutes a day on tracking food lost weight. (Journal of Obesity)
If you’re anything like me, you want to make this new year the start of a new life, through improving your nutrition, exercising frequently and practicing self-care. And you’re not alone — millions of individuals spend the first weeks of the new year engaging in exercise, cleaning up their diet and performing cardio sessions.
But as the weeks turn into months, we slowly notice that these individuals begin shifting back into their old eating patterns and gym routine.
One thing that changed for me last year was that I committed to being consistent with tracking my food. I was able to finally lose weight, build muscle, revolutionize my eating habits and fall in love with health!
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The Consistency Mindset
If you’re reading this today and can take one piece of advice from my words, it’s this: consistency is the key to achievement. When you refuse to let your goals slip to the back of your mind and take daily action towards your goals, you can move mountains. (*this post, consistency over intensity is a must read!)
This time, I was able to take out all my personal drama about the weight loss process. I was meticulous about collecting data like a science project. Weight, calories, macros, micronutrients measurements, daily steps, cardio, everything. I added it all to a spreadsheet, without opinion, emotion, judgement, or drama about what’s happening.
I DIDN’T SAY TO MYSELF:
- It’s so unfair. I’ve been working so hard and I’m not seeing results.
- I’ve been so good for awhile, My body deserves a break from healthy eating.
- At this weight I should be seeing some muscle by now!
- Up a pound?? This isn’t working!
This time; No drama. No emotion. No opinions. Just tracking the daily work, and working the plan like a science project.
And a funny thing happened. I actually started to LOVE to track. It’s no longer a burden or something that I get frustrated about. I LIKE to know how what I’m eating impacts my weight. I LOVE TRACKING!
You Need to Know Your Caloric Intake to Lose Weight
Losing weight is, in a general sense, is a game of basic arithmetic. Many of us get so caught up in diet information overload, that we forget a basic principle: if we eat fewer calories than our body needs to maintain its current weight, we will burn fat and lose weight. (read my getting started with calorie counting here!)
Knowing that calories are the culprit behind weight gain and loss, we need a means of measuring how many calories we’re consuming daily. Do you opt for ‘healthy’ snacks, only to eat 7 servings of them? If so, you may be hindering your fat-loss goals, even though you are a “healthy eater”.
Digital Food Trackers
Software developers have created food tracker applications that take all the guess-work out of the equation when counting calories. Here are the food tracker apps that I would recommend to both newfound fitness enthusiasts and seasoned veterans:
- MyFitnessPal – This is the one I use, and to be fair, haven’t even tried anything else. It does everything I need, it’s so easy to use, and it gives me all the data I need.
These food tracking apps can revolutionize your weight-loss journey and make you excited about your next meal. If I can easily count my calories with a food tracker, so can you.
Paper Food Log
Don’t get caught up in the details. If you aren’t ready to use an app for tracking your calories, pen and paper work as well! The process of writing down what you plan to eat, and what you ate, can have a huge impact on the success of your weight loss. Being accountable for what went in your mouth tends to make someone eat healthier.
Here’s a paper food log pdf for you to print if you need it!
Don’t get caught up in tracking accuracy
One thing I see that trips people up more than anything, is getting bogged down with the accuracy of tracking. Let it be known that your food record will never be accurate. Food labels are off by as much as 20%. Food trackers have incorrect data uploaded in them all the time. But if you think about this too much, it gives you an excuse to not track.
If you accept that there will be flaws in your tracking, and just use your best guestimate, you’ll still get to your weight loss goals!
Don’t lie to yourself about what you ate!
Always be honest with yourself about what food items you’re are consuming. Did you add ketchup to that burger? Are you putting extra sugar, mayonnaise or another additive on your food? If so, weight, measure, and log it into your food tracker. When you can be honest with yourself and count the smallest food items you eat, the results will come.
It’s easy after a binge to decide not to include that food in your tracker. It’s not only embarrassing to yourself, but it forces you to take a look at what you’ve done.
I found, even when I overeat, if I can include it in the tracker, I have a better picture of why my weight is stuck, or why I’m not losing weight.
Document Your Weight Loss Process
The last step to make your goals become part of your reality is to document every step — good and bad — along the way. During my transformation, I tracked everything!
In the days to come, get a journal, a pen and a camera. From here, take time daily to sit down and write out what you’re grateful for, where you slipped up and things that you could improve in the moments to come. (here’s 40 food journal prompts to get you started!)
After a few weeks of this new habit, go back to the first page and re-read your previous entries and look at the pictures you took. Do you notice the small, intricate changes that you’ve made to your body and eating habits?
These entries are the fuel that will reignite your desire to lose weight and become healthy from this year and beyond.
With the combination of a consistency mindset, tracking your food, and journaling along the way, you WILL reach your goals. Make this new year, and the subsequent years to come, the best period of your life through consistent change and positive eating habits!
What are your questions? Do you track your food? Will you start?